UCDSU host first Town Hall meeting of the year

UCDSU hosted their first Town Hall meeting in the UCD Student Village Auditorium on Wednesday, September 21st, ahead of the Cost of Living Coalition (COLC) demonstration this coming Saturday.

Attended by 20 members of UCD campus, not counting the SU sabbatical team, who were also all in attendance, the Town Hall saw a markedly lower attendance than the first meeting of its kind last year, which dealt with the ongoing housing crisis in Ireland and UCD’s response to it. UCDSU are planning to hold another Town Hall on this topic later in the year.

Wednesday’s meeting was focused on the upcoming demonstration, with conversation structured around informing the students in attendance who the COLC are, what UCDSU is demanding of the government at Saturday’s demo, and opening the floor to student perspectives on these demands - if they felt the demands adequately reflected their needs, and if there were any demands students would like to see added.

The primary issue among students present was housing. Students raised the cost of housing on campus, and the instability regarding affordable rentals in Dublin, with the majority of affordable accommodation leaving students with unmanageable commutes, or in 5-day digs, which is unsuitable for students looking to work alongside study, or who don’t have alternative, stable accommodation for weekends. This was of particular concern to a group of international students who attended the meeting, and will surely be a major issue at the next housing focused Town Hall.

The secondary issue raised was food insecurity on campus. With the SU shops running reduced hours, which will be under review as the year progresses, as reported by the University Observer in our premiere issue, affordable food options in the evening are slim on campus. Students and staff who were on campus prior to the pandemic will be aware of how much the shops on campus have increased their prices, particularly with regards to the relocation of Centra to the Student Village. This relocation coincided with noticeable cost increases. One student raised the question of opening a student run co-operative, and the chance of this being able to run, above board, on campus. At the moment, the closest alternative to this are the SU shops, which are managed by UCDSU, and which currently reinvest their profits back into student activity and resources.

Any students who wish to march in protest of the current cost of living crisis can join the demonstration from 2pm at the Garden of Remembrance. A group, led by the SU, will be leaving from the bus terminus opposite Glenomena at 1pm. Further Town Halls will be held by the SU later in the semester, with the hopes of basing them in more central campus locations.